Pakistan will officially recognise esports on a national level by granting it the status of “regular sports”.
Fawad Chaudhry, Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Science and Technology, announced last week that a memorandum has been signed between the Pakistan Sports Board and the Pakistan Science Foundation that will see esports receive a “regular sports” status.
This looks to be the beginning of a concerted push by the Pakistani Government to invest more heavily in new media, specifically video games. This point was hammered home with a recent tweet from the minister that read: “If you are interested in video games, get ready and new opportunities are waiting for you.”
National Esports tournament
This news comes hot on the heels of the announcement of the first national esports tournament to take place in Pakistan. According to the announcement, a national level esports tournament will be taking place in March 2021 in Islamabad.
This news was also announced by the Federal Minister of Science and Technology, Fawad Chaudhry. In an interview with popular internet personality and TV Show host Waqar Zaka, Chaudhry spoke about the future of gaming and esports in Pakistan.
“The video game industry is worth 90 billion dollars. There is an annual growth of 20% in the video gaming industry in Pakistan. The companies working in Pakistan are telling me that we have jobs available but there aren’t enough people that we can hire.”
To avoid government bureaucracy, the event will be sponsored by private brands and companies in Pakistan. No further details have been provided for the event. We do not know the games that will be included in the tournament or what structure it will take. However, this a big step forward for the growth of esports in the region. By bypassing government bureaucracy and going straight to private sponsors, shows that they are willing to work with local companies to generate more opportunities closer to home.
Esports and Gaming in Pakistan
Despite the lack of esports investment in the country, they have had some pretty major global success. In 2015, the North American team Evil Geniuses took first place at The International. Out of the six players on the team, only one was not from North America, Syed Sumail “SumaiL” Hassan, a pro DOTA 2 player from Karachi, Pakistan. He was featured in Time Magazine’s top 30 influential teenagers of 2016, making him the first ever Dota 2 player to be included in the magazine’s awards.
Arslan Ash is a pro-Tekken player from Lahore, Pakistan. He came to prominence in 2019 and dominated the pro-Tekken circuit. He won city, district, and national level tournaments in Pakistan until he went global. His story about winning EVO Japan 2019 is already very famous and he continues to be at the top of his game.
The future of esports in the region
Investment in esports and their recognition is hugely important for its growth. By officially recognising esports and committing to a national tournament, Pakistan has set themselves up for more homegrown talent, teams, and organisations. Chaudry mentioned that there are plenty of companies ready to invest and spend money on gaming and esports, but they lack the talent. By making local gaming more attractive, we will almost certainly see a great deal more top-level teams coming out of the country.
Featured Image Credits: The esports observer